United Kingdom elects first British National Party members of European Parliament

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Nick Griffin
Image: Mrmurrey.

The first members of parliament for the British National Party (BNP) were elected today, in the United Kingdom elections for the European Parliament. Nick Griffin, the leader of the party, was elected Member of the European Parliament in the North West England region, and Andrew Brons was elected in the Yorkshire and the Humber region. This is the first time that the BNP has won a parliamentary seat in any European Parliamentary or U.K. General Election.

Although the number of votes cast for the BNP in the North West England region in the 2009 election (132,094) was lower than the number of votes cast for the BNP (134,959) in the previous election in 2004, the percentage of the popular vote achieved by the BNP rose, from 6.4% to 8.0%, because of a lower overall voter turnout. Nick Robinson claimed this was because of the abolition in postal ballots in this years elections. He went on to say that BNP voters are more enthusiastic on voting, so their votes wouldn't decline as much as other parties.

Similarly, in the Yorkshire and the Humber region, the number of votes cast for the party fell from 126,538 in the 2004 elections to 120,139 in the 2009 elections, but a lower turnout resulted in the party's percentage share in the popular vote rising from 8.0% to 9.8%.

The BNP will now receive EU funding, in the form of MEP expenses and office and staff allowances. What it will receive will be governed by the Statute for Members of the European Parliament, new rules for MEP expenses introduced for the newly elected 2009 parliament. Mr Griffin and Mr Brons will each receive a €7,000 per month salary (formally, 38.5% of the basic salary of a judge at the European Court of Justice), paid from the EU budget, and a pension when they leave office. They will also be entitled to employ personal staff, whose salaries are also paid from the EU budget.

The election of BNP MEPs has caused protests. Mr Griffin was accosted by political protestors when he attended the vote counting on the night of June the 7th, and was forced to enter the building via a rear entrance. When he stepped forward to make his victory speech, after the result had been declared, all other parties' candidates took the unusual step of leaving the stage.